Suite Volunteer

by Beth Schorr Jaffe


Back, all in pink

like the day you left.

Proud, lifting your bag

with one hand,

while the other

lifts the clay pot,

the tongue of a sprout,

a pit planted together,

the week you started,

your first last treatment.

I tremble.

Your cheeks rosy—

Too cold?

No, you mouth: Chemo

I knew this,

I am Thursday’s girl

In the Cancer Suites

You pirouette for me

until your head

falls softly,

giving in.

I pull

white cotton

up and over

your  body,

bubblegum wilting.

You smile,

I know for me .

Your stiffened finger,

indicts my haze of gloom,

pointing viciously to tomorrow.

Tell me

of your strange pain

deep within your fallen neck

while I turn my head

cover your feet,

the rustle of heavy starch

fills my ears,

shuts out

details of your disease—

Still, when I go home,

I have a strange pain

in the place you pointed to

when I couldn’t really look.